By Andy Young
Last Wednesday I had a sit-down meal inside a restaurant for the first time since before the start of mandated social distancing. I’ve never been a big spender, nor someone who dines out habitually (even prior to COVID-19), so it’s likely this was my first time actually eating out in more than a year.
My companions, who insisted on paying for everything, took me to a high-end eatery. We were waited on by an attractive, professional, and friendly server, and the food was terrific. We even ordered dessert, which, due to the fact I’m usually stuffed after consuming the main course (and to my inherent frugality), I do about as frequently as Kanye West releases a country album.
But the best part of the evening wasn't the food or the service. It was the company.
According to Mapquest.com, Bob and Lori currently live 513 miles from me. But no amount of distance can hinder our longstanding friendship, which dates back further than any of us cares to admit.
Bob and I have known each other a long time. A remarkable aspect of our relationship: he was once twice as old as I was. Okay, that was on the second day of his life, which was the first day of mine. But aren’t statistics fun?
The two of us grew up less than a mile apart, went to the same little kid birthday parties, and attended the same schools from kindergarten through Grade 12. We were also involved in some of the same activities. Fate made us Little League teammates, which indirectly accounted for whatever modest success I had as a youth baseball player. When Bob was 12 years old he was approximately the same size I am today, although even back then he was physically stronger than I would ever become. A 6-foot-2-inch Little League pitcher with inconsistent control can be pretty intimidating, and Bob was no exception. However, fortunately for his teammates, we never had to face him in an actual game. Several of our contemporaries on other teams elected to forego baseball in order to pursue other activities after their Little League careers ended, and Bob’s blazing deliveries, which didn’t always go precisely where they were aimed, were very likely part of the reason.
Our paths began diverging in high school. I was just beginning a 20-year adolescence, but Bob was an anomaly: a teenage male who was kind, thoughtful, polite, intelligent and hard-working. He got married before I got out of college and became a dad before I got my first “real” job. But we still communicated occasionally, staying connected long after both of us had permanently left the town where we had grown up.
Bob hit the jackpot in the marriage lottery. He and Lori have raised three fine boys, all of whom emanate the same integrity, kindness, work ethic, and overall character they learned from growing up with parents who both embody all those traits. Lori thinks she’s as lucky to have Bob as he feels he is to have her. And the best part is, they’re both right.
Last week Lori had a job interview in Portland, which gave the three of us the opportunity to visit face-to-face after another multi-year hiatus. The evening turned out to be one of those rare occasions where the actual event lived up to (or in this particular case exceeded) my already sky-high level of anticipation.
I’ll be psyched if Lori gets that job, even if it means that our next dinner together will be on me. I can’t wait!
I hope they won’t want dessert, though. <